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Composting in Boston

Composting in Boston

You can compost in your backyard, or even in your apartment.

Composting is the controlled decomposition of organic material. You create a rich, black soil that is great for your yard and garden. By composting, you reduce your garbage, save money, and enrich the soil.

Still have questions? Contact:
Public Works
1 City Hall Square
Room 714
Boston, MA 02201-2024
United States

Find a compost bin or bucket

Boston residents can buy subsidized bins and buckets at:

Boston Building Resources
100 Terrace Street, Mission Hill (617-442-2262, Ext. 1)

Compost bins cost $58, about half off the suggested retail price. You could compost waste into about 200 pounds of rich dirt.

Kitchen scrap buckets costs $10. The bucket, which can hold seven liters, is an easy way to compost in the kitchen. You can also create your own compost bin at home.

If you don’t have a backyard, you can still compost. There are a couple of different ways you can compost indoors:


Project Oscar (named after the Sesame Street character) is Boston’s first 24-hour community composting program. Members of the community can drop off food waste at one of Project Oscar’s compost bins. Learn more about Project Oscar.

Where the yard waste ends up.

City of Boston Compost Site

The City of Boston compost site is where we process all yard waste. We turn it into compost and leaf mulch, which is used in many community gardens and parks across the City.

What makes a good compost pile?

The elements of a good compost pile include biodegradables, organic material, air, and moisture.  For the best results, follow these compost instructions. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection also has information on composting.

To build your compost, you will need nitrogen-rich “green” materials, like:

  • food scraps (but not meat, dairy, fats, and oils)
  • fresh grass clippings
  • weeds (not laden with seeds), and
  • coffee grounds.

You will also need carbon-rich “brown” materials, like:

  • straw
  • dried leaves
  • woodchips
  • sawdust
  • shredded paper, and
  • pine Needles (pine needles should not make up more than 10 percent of the material in the pile).

Leaf and yard waste

From April until the first week of December, the City collects and composts residents’ yard waste on specific recycling days.

Download the 2017 calendar

  • Please place leaves and yard debris in large paper leaf bags or in barrels labeled “Yard Waste.” We won’t take plastic bags. Tie up branches with string and place them in barrels.
  • Please don’t include branches that are longer than three feet.  You can get a “Yard Waste” sticker for your barrel. Call 311 or make a request online. You can only get two stickers per household.
Yard waste bags

Curbside yard waste

In this photo, you can see yard waste bags set out properly on collection day.